It’s about bad timing. At an age when a teen’s brain can understand why a certain behavior may be wrong, his/her brain’s self-control mechanism has not fully developed. This disconnect is the likely reason why teens engage in behavior they know intellectually is risky.
Brain scans have shown that one part of a teen’s brain is very sensitive to dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter. That means the teens feel anticipated rewards very powerfully. Unfortunately, another part of the brain responsible for evaluating and controlling impulses doesn’t fully develop until age 25. So the felt value of a pleasurable activity overpowers an adolescent’s ability to calculate the risk of that activity. This may explain why educational efforts, lecturing and preaching to teens aren’t very effective. The challenge remains……..